Making the town that shaped his childhood and supported his dream proud was always the inspiration for Greg Bates and the direction of his music.
In 2012, that inspiration turned into debut success for the 2010 Belmont alum. The Nashville broke onto the country music scene when his first single “Did It for the Girl” reached reached the top five in radio charts.
Bates was born and raised in Brentwood, a place where he said he was surrounded by music. Growing up in a culture where music was so prevalent, making it big in the music industry had always been his plan, Bates said.
“I grew up around songwriting and got to see behind the scene, I don’t think it was easier growing up here, I just got my foot in the door,” Bates said.
Bates grew up listening to artists such as Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakman and Alan Jackson. Their traditional sound was the spark for the Bates’ classical country music he aimed to portray.
Once Bates found his sound, he began writing songs when he was 15 years old. After that, he started to play local venues and any show that he could get in the door.
To further advance his goals, Bates began at Belmont University in the fall of 2006 to get a degree in music business.
“I knew what I wanted when I got to Belmont, I just didn’t know how to get there,” said Bates.
While at Belmont, Bates said he was surrounded by people with similar passions who helped him reach towards his goal.
“My intro to music business seminar teacher Mark Volman was blunt with us on the first day of class and made sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into,” said Bates.
Volman, who has had his own share of success in the music industry, said Bates was a student ready to jump into the industry.
“As a music business student you knew he was filling every topic away in his head for future use,” Volman said. “I hope he accomplishes everything he dreams of doing and I know he will be prepared for all of the business choices that are sent his way.”
As a Belmont student, Bates also learned in order to accomplish his dreams, he had to start pursuing them as soon as he have the chance. Starting his sophomore year, he would pitch his music and talk business with various publishing companies in the morning and then head to his publishing class that afternoon.
“You have to be present to win,” he said. “You don’t have to wait until you graduate, I’m glad I started when I did.”
After Bates graduated in 2010, Bates was signed with a publishing contract. In the fall of 2011, he had signed a recording contract with Big Machine Records.
In April of 2012, his debut single “Did It for the Girl” was released to country radio. In a way, Bates wasn’t sure how to react when he heard his own voice on the air.
“Hearing my own song on the radio was the craziest moment for me. we were driving in Tampa, Fla. and it came on the radio,” he said. “I was thinking to myself ‘I like how this sounds, we should cut something like this.’ It took me till about halfway through the first verse to realize that it was my own song.”
After his single peaked at No. 5 on country radio charts and No. 66 on the Billboard Top 100, Bates also debuted at the Grand Ole Opry in 2012.
“Playing the Opry was a milestone for me, but I don’t know if I’ll ever consider myself a success,” Bates said.
This year, Bates will continue working on a full length album, and will be playing a number of shows with Alan Jackson and Gloriana. Bates hopes to continue growing as a musician, getting better every year, and continue making his hometown of Nashville proud.
“I’m excited to get back out there and here people singing along with me. Every songwriter wants Nashville to root for them.”
Bates will release his second single “Fill in the Blank” on February 15 and plans to release a full album sometime in 2013.
Photo Courtesy Jeremy Cowart